He knew that his two companions were staring at him when they thought he wasn't paying attention, they underestimated him since he learned to always pay attention. There was no time for stopping, questions or answers or deep talks. He had a bad feeling about what they would find in Kumo and what happened in Iwa did not ease his thoughts at all. What bothered him the most was the lack of apparent reason for the Akatsuki to push forward, full force, so suddenly. The conflict between the mist and the leaf gave them a window of opportunity for sure but why did they not stay quiet and instead blitzed right through the middle of a village... Something must have urged them on, but what?
Day turned to night and the trio settled for a break to catch some sleep before finishing the final part of the journey. The silence still reigned as no one dared speak in Naruto's heavy presence and under his distant stare. Shizune sneaked a glance at Kankuro before he shook his head discretely. After Naruto left the conference room the Kages all agreed that his problem would have to be fixed, one way or another, as in the end they all were able to fully agree on one thing. Naruto was too powerful and no matter what they thought about him personally, as family or friend, he would be too much of a danger to himself and everyone else if he ever broke. Helping Naruto was as much a duty to him as it was to the elemental nations. The two who disagreed with this plan of action were Ao and Jiraiya, they both knew that scheming behind his back would not end well and that the best thing they could do was leave him alone.
"If you want to say something then just get on with it." Naruto said from his spot under the tree and startled the two jonin. They looked at him and then at each other but neither said anything. "Nothing then? I'll take the first watch, you two go to sleep. We can talk after the mission is over." Kankuro nodded immediately and jumped into his sleeping bag. Shizune lingered for a second before doing the same. Naruto sighed before using a low level Jutsu to douse the fire. Finally he settled on a branch that gave him a good view of the surroundings and activated the transparency Jutsu to blend in. At least he would have some time to think things over...
"Shut up Hidan! If you didn't need to pray before every fight the two tails would be already ours!" The masked member of the Zombie Duo shouted as he dodged a giant blue claw of demonic chakra. He wasn't in much danger of dying but it would only be a waste of time if he had to sew himself together. His annoying partner was in a similar situation right now.
"Don't tell me what to do motherfucker and if you ever say anything about Jashin-sama or my rituals then even your fucking hearts won't keep you alive!" Hidan shouted at Kakuzu who rolled his eyes and stopped another claw attack with a giant wall of water. The damn cat just didn't want to give up.
"I swear that I will kill you one day but for now could you hold that thing still for a few seconds?!" Hidan only grunted in response but he readied his triple bladed scythe and as soon as an opportunity arose he launched it in an arc and into the Two-tails neck before pulling down on the cable connecting the scythe back to him. The two-tails roared before it smashed head down into the ground. Kakuzu cracked his neck before launching his Jutsu. Surely the cat would tire out soon...
Naruto's head suddenly snapped to the north as his senses picked up on familiar feeling chakra. It wasn't as violent but he could recognise it anywhere. He stopped jumping from branch to branch before scaling the closest tree to the very top. His two, very confused, companions followed after him.
"One of the tailed beasts is fighting somewhere in that direction." Naruto informed them before they even asked the question. Their eyes widened in realisation. If the beast was fighting then it probably meant that Akatsuki was the one it was fighting. The thing was that even though Naruto could feel the chakra, they couldn't feel or see anything which meant that the fight was tens of miles away and out of their reach. "Grab onto my jacket, hold tight and try not to throw up." Naruto ordered and before they knew it all three were flashing in and out of view as an ice kunai flew at un-human speeds towards its destination.
"The further reports said that the Akatsuki moved north from Iwa before completely disappearing from all sensor fields." Jiraiya read out from a scroll before thanking the toad which brought it to him a couple minutes before. Tsunade sighed and leaned forward while trying to make sense of everything. They had no idea who the leader of the Akatsuki, who this time was surely involved in the attack, was and they could only guess at what he would do next.
"Should we send help to Iwa? Or at least a message asking for a conference between the Kages?" Asked Mei, seeing the strange looks she got she continued. "We may never have been on the best terms with Iwa and neither was the leaf but I feel we might need all the help we can get. I just have a bad feeling about all of this." Tsunade seemed to think hard for a few seconds before shaking her head.
"No, as true as that may be they wouldn't accept help. There's too much bad blood between Iwa and Konoha..." Tsunade didn't finish but they all knew. It was for a good reason that the two villages hated each other. All eyes focused on the sage as he stood up from his spot and walked over to where Yuki was sleeping. He tightened a scroll he just wrote to her backpack before straightening up and facing the rest of the room.
"We should get ready and gather our forces, fortify the villages... get ready for a full on war." Gaara looked as calm as ever despite Jiraiya's words but on the inside he was as disturbed as all the others in the room. The Akatsuki had managed to kidnap him from his own village and now ran through Iwa and probably captured the two of their hosts.
Who was to say that they wouldn't attack any of the other villages?
Hidan set his feet against the ground and pulled on his scythe. The two tailed cat roared as the blades cut into the chakra flesh. The beast, even though in pain, did not let up and seemed to only get madder. The flames on its blue skin flared up as it reared up. Hidan tried his best but the beast was stronger and as if on a spring the cable pulled back and threw him up into the air and against the ground. Kakuzu grit his teeth in anger, this was taking too long already.
"...False Darkness!" Hidan looked back as a concentrated beam of energy shot from where his partner was standing. The Jutsu took the beast off guard and cleaved right through its chest. The beast stumbled for a few seconds before falling down on the spot. Hidan took the opportunity to stand up and dust himself off.
"Fucking finally, we have been fighting this thing for hours..." Hidan snarled and Kakuzu nodded. He cracked his shoulder back into place and watched as the chakra slowly dissipated from the flaming cat until it revealed a blond haired woman. Just as Kakuzu was about to walk forward to pick her up he heard someone land on the ground behind them. As he turned around he caught a glimpse of Hidan's smirk. "Fuck yeah! Jashin-sama will be delighted with this sacrifice!"
Both Shizune and Kankuro stumbled forward when they landed a couple hundred meters from the fight. Kankuro steadied himself under a tree and covered his mouth with his hand to stop himself from showing off his breakfast.
"Wha- What the hell was that!?" Kankuro whispered with a glare directed at Naruto who was shaking with silent laughter. It was then that the foul chakra nearly completely disappeared and that could mean one of two things. The host has won and released the chakra cloak or the Akatsuki won... Naruto's face was set, determination whirling behind the blue eyes and his teammates mirrored his actions.
Naruto's eyes narrowed as he registered the two cloaked figures and the unmoving body. His gaze crossed paths with the Akatsuki holding a scythe and something about that smirk set him off.
"Keep the one on the right busy; do not let them get away with the body." Kankuro and Shizune nodded and wasted no time in moving in towards their target whose hands were already making handsigns. Naruto meanwhile has already activated his first stage cloak and an ice kunai in hand.
Hidan's smile widened even more when the blonde appeared behind him and tried to slash him with a kunai. It didn't work though as his control with the scythe was that mastered over years and he had no problem deflecting attacks with it. He turned on the spot and slashed in a wide arc but missed completely as his opponent has 'teleported' out of the way again.
Naruto growled again as he felt more chakra entered his system. There was no point in wasting time with slowly powering up. The faster he won his fight he would be able to move to move in to help his teammates who currently were doing well enough against the other Akatsuki. The appearance of a chakra tail behind him set off his opponent who apparently didn't know he was a host.
"Kakuzu! This fucker is a host! What are we supposed to do with him?!" Hidan barely finished as a blue ball of chakra smashed into the ground where he stood a second before.
"I'll deal with these ones soon and then we can take care of him, I'm sure leader will be happy if we bring back two beasts instead of one..." Kakuzu shouted back as he blocked volleys of senbon with a wall of water.
Naruto took the small opportunity to release his mist in a small area around his fight, while he could fight perfectly inside it he knew that neither Shizune nor Kankuro were able to see inside it. Moving silently he gripped his sword in a two handed grip and wasting no time slashed in a horizontal cut. He could feel blood splash against his face and could hear the head drop to the floor. Retreating the mist he saw the unmoving body and everything would have been fine if not for the fact that the head looked perfectly alive...
"You motherfucker! Kakuzu! Fix me right now so I can cut this bitch into tiny pieces!" Naruto couldn't hear the response of the other Akatsuki but took a step back when the ground rumbled lightly and a second later black like strings shot out of the earth around Hidan's body and crawled all over his decapitated head. Naruto watched in amazement as the Akatsuki's head was reattached to his body. Hidan looked just fine despite the fatal injury he endured just a few seconds ago. He cracked his neck in a mocking gesture and released a cackling mad laugh. "We are only just getting started you little shit."
Naruto ground his teeth. If cutting his head off didn't work then what would? The situation with Kakuzu was not going well either as he seemed to be able to counter anything Shizune or Kankuro threw at him. The grip on his sword tightened and he dashed forward, a cloud of mist surrounding him at all times. Sparks flew as the two bladed weapons clashed together. Naruto immediately kicked the sword back up and followed up with a strike aimed at Hidan's arm. If he wouldn't die from losing a head then he probably wouldn't die from most other cuts but if he could get rid of that scythe...
Hidan was having the time of his life. Finding strong opponents was hard nowadays, especially when you were immortal. Too bad that he would not be able to sacrifice the blonde to Jashin-sama; he would have to pray for forgiveness later... maybe slaughter a small town...
The shielding atop of the puppet named salamander blocked another Jutsu fired off by Kakuzu. Nothing seemed to have any effect on the Akatsuki. When scorpion managed to stab him in the stomach the strange black threads sewed the wound back together in seconds. Throwing senbon was useless and any sort of poison apparently had no effect. They would figure out how to kill him fast or they would die themselves.
Naruto's strikes were getting more frantic and even though he managed to sneak a cut her and there it only spurred on the pain loving Akatsuki. Strike after strike from the scythe was deflected by either the sword or ice that materialised in small shards from the mist surrounding Naruto like an ultimate defence. Hidan jumped back and whipped his scythe around as a final strike towards Naruto. The attack was unexpected as Naruto had no idea that the cable was able to extend so far or that it was even possible to control the scythe at such a long range. That was when Hidan drew blood.
Naruto watched as Hidan's grin grew more maniacal than before. The Akatsuki brought his scythe to him and licked off the couple drops of Naruto's blood and seemed to savour the salty taste similarly to how an experienced wine connoisseur tasted a drink. Before Naruto thought to move back in and continue his attacks Hidan drew a strange symbol on the ground. A circle big enough for him to stand in and a triangle within the circle. That is when things turned weird. Hidan started to laugh, crazier than ever before, as his skin started to turn black with markings resembling bones all over his body. When their eyes met Naruto started to move towards his opponent but before he could reach him Hidan stabbed himself in the stomach with a retractable spear he took out from under his cloak.
Naruto's eyes widened when he felt the same wound on his own body. He stumbled forward and fell to one knee while clutching his new wound.
"Hahahaha! You are at my and Jashin-sama's mercy now!" He seemed to take a second to collect himself and retracted the spear before looking back at Naruto. He grinned at Naruto's glaring eyes and shoved the spear right into his left lung. A moment later Naruto bent over even farther and with a hard breath coughed up blood. "Hurts, doesn't it?" Naruto's eyes shot up to meet Hidan's again. "It's a nice way to understand each other, isn't it? And the pain is so fucking delightful..." Naruto's shoulders were shaking with anger; he couldn't take it anymore and started to stand up. Hidan laughed again when he that and stabbed himself in the leg. Naruto propped himself up on his sword to stop himself from falling as his leg started to feel limp. He wanted to rip that smug expression from that bastards face. It was then that he heard a huge explosion and strangled cry. He caught the sight of giant flames in the corner of his eye. Hidan licked his lips as he looked on towards the destruction his partner wrought. "Hm, Kakuzu will want to collect the bounties for those two after we are done here. You should say goodbye to that whore and that other fucker fast I'd think."
It was after those words that something broke in Naruto. One tail quickly changed into three and his wounds stitched up enough for him to be able to walk again towards Hidan. The Akatsuki lost his smirk and used the spear to inflict multiple wounds on his legs to stop the jinchuriki in front of him but it only slowed him down. Naruto at this point was laying on the ground, the chakra tails slowly swishing on the ground. Then the fourth tail appeared.
It was as if a dam was broken and the foul chakra flooded his system. When he used it before, it was filtered in some way which gave it the white colour and so did not affect him as much but now that was all gone. This chakra was full of anger and malice and as more and more travelled under his skin it started to burn like acid. When his skin got torn off Naruto started to scream.
Hidan would have laughed and took pleasure in the painful screams if not for the fact that the fact that the blonde he was torturing was no longer there. In a blink of an eye he found himself eye to eye with a bloodthirsty chakra beast at least three times his size. He didn't get to scream himself as the blood red jaws opened to reveal a black abyss and closed in on top of him.
Kakuzu could only look on as his partner was bit in half, the top half quickly consumed by the fox like beast. He watched as the lifeless bottom part of his partner's body dropped to the knees and fell forward, the only thought in his head right now was that he probably would not be able to sew Hidan back together after this.
The beast stopped before releasing a deafening roar into the air. Its eyes then settled on the remaining Akatsuki member but instead of going straight after him it opened its jaws and formed a black ball of chakra before swallowing it. Kakuzu's green eyes met with the glowing white ones of the four tailed fox as the beast fired a beam of chakra straight at him. It was then that he felt something pull him underground. The blast shockwave shook the ground for miles around the impact zone.
When Kakuzu emerged from the ground on the other side of the field, a somewhat safe distance from the rampaging beast, he finally saw that it was Zetsu who saved him from a quick death. Before he could ask on what where their further orders another presence revealed itself.
"So it seems that someone was able to finally kill him." The blue haired woman said as she looked on towards the beast which was now devouring the remains of Hidan's body.
"Konan-san, should we attempt to capture the beast now or should we leave now?" Konan kept her eyes locked on the beast standing a few hundred meters from her and shook her head.
"No. Zetsu has already secured the two tails. We lost another member today so the sealing will take even longer now. Even with the three of us we would be hard pressed to capture the nine tails now as reinforcements from Kumo will be arriving soon." Konan finished and turned to Zetsu.
"What about the other two..."
"No, we do not have time to waste Kakuzu and neither I nor the leader cares about your bounties." Kakuzu's fist clenched when he thought about losing another two bounties but he stayed quiet, even he could not match up to the leader's power.
Taking one last look at the blood red chakra beast Konan turned around and disappeared in a flutter of thousands of paper sheets flying with the wind. The other two Akatsuki followed soon after.
Naruto's breathing was uneven and more strained than ever. He jumped again and pressed himself again one of the huge metal bars as a tail swiped into the ground just in front of him. Taking the chance he jumped onto it and started running up and along it as the Kyuubi tried to shake him off.
"Stop it Kyuubi! Cut off the chakra! What do you think this will accomplish!?" Naruto shouted before making a long jump after the beast threw itself at a wall in an attempt to smash him as if he was merely a flea.
"As if you had to ask that question, you know what I want human. I was waiting a long time for this chance!" The Kyuubi roared back. That was when Naruto started getting close to his head. Using both hands he started charging a rasengan but it didn't stop there. A clone appeared on his side and together they poured more chakra into the rasengan which grew many times its normal size. One of Kyuubi's claws swiped at Naruto and managed to destroy his clone but fortunately he was close enough to his target. When the giant rasengan smashed into the Kyuubi a huge shockwave exploded and blew Naruto forward and towards the gate while the Fox was smashed into the ground below. The explosion managed to kick up a cloud of dust.
Naruto shakily stood up when he felt a build up of chakra. He couldn't see what the Kyuubi was about to do but he had a feeling. Just at the last second he focused on pulling the chakra from all around him. This was his realm and his chakra was everywhere around him. It had to work. Putting his hands forward he focused on creating Ice chakra and just as the beast ball was about to hit him it was consumed by a giant wall of ice. The more power the Kyuubi poured into the attack the thicker the ice grew, slowly creeping along the beam of chakra. At this point the Kyuubi was breathing as hard as Naruto but when he saw the blonde ran up the ice and stand in front of him, at his eye level, he knew that the fight was over.
"You know that I saw everything... and all this time I trusted you when everyone else told me not to! Did I ever take anything from you? Did I ever steal your power? I never broke my side of the deal!" The Kyuubi stayed silent and only continued to stare into Naruto's eyes. Finally he released a large breath through his nose that nearly made Naruto stumble back. Naruto could feel the foul chakra retract from his body. Before he could say anything the fox pushed him out of his mindscape. As he came back to consciousness he heard the fox's words echo in his head.
'This is not over Naruto.'
-'... and it really wasn't over, it was merely a beginning. A precursor of what was to come. I still do not fully understand everything but I understand enough to know why things went the way they did back then. I finally understand what all those dreams and cryptic messages meant...'
When he opened his eyes he wasn't really that surprised to see at least five members of Kumogakure anbu standing over him, pointing their ninjatos at his vitals. Taking a quick glance to his side he saw that Shizune and Kankuro were laying on the ground nearby with another five kumo-nins standing guard over them. At least his teammates seemed to be still alive. Looking back at the ninja standing over him he found the one that looked like he could be the leader of the group.
"In my left breast pocket there is a scroll that should clear up all this." Naruto said while motioning around him with his chin. The anbu hesitated for a second before reaching in and taking the scroll in question. He retreated to the back and out of view but a few minutes later the weapons were removed and Naruto was roughly pulled upright.
"This explains why you are here but it doesn't explain what happened here and our missing jonin." The Anbu spoke roughly from behind his mask, his voice laced with distrust. Naruto let nothing show on his face as he spoke.
"I think that your Kage should hear it first." The two stared at each other for a moment before the anbu nodded sharply. He motioned to the other group with his hand and the anbu bound Shizune and Kankuro before throwing them over their shoulders. Soon they were moving towards the mountains in the east, Naruto surrounded by the bulk of the anbu as his two teammates were carried unconscious in the back of the group.
"At least they didn't close me in a cell..." Naruto said to himself as he moved his gaze from the window to the still forms of his two teammates. They have been brought to Kumogakure hours ago and they all were placed in the hospital under anbu supervision while an appointment was being made with the Raikage. He himself was perfectly fine except for the slightly burned clothes. Shizune and Kankuro were not in danger of dying but would still be unconscious at least for another day.
Despite the unnerving sound of the IV drip Naruto slowly he lowered himself back onto the bed he was given and tried going back to sleep. As soon as a new set of images, that plagued his dreams for months, appeared he knew that he wouldn't get much actual sleep.
To Be Continued...